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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2007 :  19:45:17  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On April 16th, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) published an interesting article by Ochman and Liu, "Stepwise formation of the bacterial flagellar system." This would, at first, appear to be a dream to defenders of science, as it looks to drive a final wooden stake through the vampire heart of Michael Behe's "irreducibly complex" flagellum, a cornerstone of "Intelligent Design" argumentation. The PNAS paper claims to have shown that the proteins of the flagellum all come from "a single gene that underwent successive duplications and subsequent diversification during the early evolution of Bacteria," which if true would surely destroy Behe's most-famous example.

Predictably, anti-anti-evolutionists have jumped at the paper, repeating its claim to have "unraveled the steps in the evolution of the bacterial flagellum." But what if the authors haven't actually done so?

Nick Matzke, over at the Panda's Thumb, doesn't think the article deserves the high praise it's receiving. He lays out a bunch of objections in "Flagellum evolution paper exhibits canine qualities," details two of them in "Update on PNAS flagellum paper," and offers even more details in "Flagellum evolution kerfluffle continued" (with hints and promises of even more to come!). Near the end of the last (as of right now), Matzke calls the PNAS article, "...clearly an embarrassing paper with an argument that collapsed on careful examination..." and all throughout the three pieces (to date) notes the pro-science blogs and publications that are rather hastily and uncritically pushing the paper's claims and predicting the death of ID.

Even Robert Carroll only offers a token of critical thinking on the subject, saying that even if the authors are wrong, their work somehow demonstrates that ID's "end to the quest for knowledge" is foolish. But it's so easy to show that the continual questioning of science is better than dogmatic irrationalism that using this particular PNAS paper as an example is itself an embarrassment. Carroll doesn't seem to want to admit that the point of the paper was to "demolish" ID, but it failed miserably, so he's trying to pull any semblance of hope that he can from the ashes. He didn't even link to any of the three posts by Matzke on the subject, but just to the Panda's Thumb homepage.

The real value of the Ochman and Liu paper, it seems to me, is just what's been noted several times over at Panda's Thumb already: it allowed for another example of the mean ol' Darwinists not simply nodding with approval at anything which might support their "worldview." Matzke's items criticizing people who are supposed to be on "his side" generally wouldn't be tolerated at ID blogs.

And it's not just true of IDists, but of most pseudoscientists. You won't generally see homeopaths criticizing each other's works, and you won't find Michael Mozina pointing out the obvious flaws in Manuel's work, either. "Big Tent" politics are necessary to keep such "fringe," obsolete or just-plain-wrong ideas alive, by creating the illusion of a population of researchers all agreeing on the merits of one another's arguments, when really all they agree upon is that the mainstream is somehow "wrong."

The pseudoscientists then project the "Big Tent" activism onto their detractors, but it's so damn easy to find examples of scientists vehemently disagreeing with each other that such projection is necessarily transparent. The pity is that most people never learn of, for example, the disputes between Einstein and Bohr, or the once-raging debate over Punctuated Equillibria. All they see is the highschool science textbooks saying "this is the way things are" with no room for disagreement (other than a failing grade).

So I think it's very important that, at an early age, we "teach the controversy" by using examples such as Matzke's or any of the numerous others. Among the professionals, there is no debate that evolution has and is occuring, but there certainly is vigorous and fruitful debate over the details of how and when it occured. And that's the only way for science to make any substantive progress.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2007 :  23:04:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well said...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  03:08:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the information and links, Dave. I love seeing how science polices its facts, even when the process is not pretty. And I like how you point out how different this is from the crackpot communities, which prefer to circle the wagons.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  10:45:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For anyone reading Matzke's posts on the thumb, this blurb may help you interpret some of his criticisms into understandable language.

A brief description of paralogy and homology:
http://stripe.colorado.edu/~am/Homo&Para.html


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  11:01:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And yes, this is another fine example of the ability of the scientific method to self correct.

If your methodology and conclusions are flawed, you can expect others to shred you to ribbons. No mercy, even from those who would like nothing better than to see your conclusions hold up under scrutiny.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  11:54:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

No mercy, even from those who would like nothing better than to see your conclusions hold up under scrutiny.
As Matzke says, "In science, if the choice is between propagating error and being remorselessly negative, you've got to go with remorselessness. It sucks, and it's nothing personal everyone makes mistakes sometimes but that's science (unlike creationism/ID)."

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  12:16:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I couldn't agree more with Matzke on this. (the idea that error must be culled, remorselessly)


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
Edited by - Dude on 04/25/2007 12:17:47
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2007 :  16:03:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's a sure bet the Discovery Institute and other Creationists will be jumping all over this study (and the few scientists who supported it without critical examination) for years to come as a "Darwinist fraud," and comparing it with Piltdown Man, even though science is correcting the errors already.

Another thing we can bet the farm on: In the future, "Creation Science" and ID will still not be doing even a lick of science.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25997 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2007 :  07:47:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, Michael Behe - against whom the PNAS article was "targeted" - has responded with "DARWINISM GONE WILD: Neither sequence similarity nor common descent address a claim of Intelligent Design," in which he attempts to claim that even if Ochman and Liu are right, it says nothing against ID because ID is only a critique of random mutation and natural selection being responsible for evolution (that strawman is going to be long-lived, it seems), and the PNAS paper also doesn't address irreducible complexity (the need for an intelligence in creating the instructions for putting all those proteins together into flagella, even if they're all derived from one ancestral protein). Behe's piece ends, without excitement, with some arguments from incredulity and a plug for his upcoming book.

Bill Dembski has responded with "All flagellar genes derive from a single gene," in which he doesn't address the science of Ochman, Liu or Matzke, but just makes the bold pronouncement that he thinks the PNAS paper is a Sokal-style hoax in which a crappy article gets through peer review to show the peer review is itself crappy. In the comments, Dembski's sychophants think this represents a wonderful new "strategy" for ID, because by getting lots of crappy papers into prestigious journals, they can dilute good "Darwinist" science to the point where being published is worthless. Nevermind, of course, that they are celebrating lying. Nevermind that publication isn't the goal of science. Of interest is the complete lack of comments thinking this would be a good time to publish some well-done ID research, to try to show that ID scientists can succeed where the "Darwimps" fail... because, of course, there is no ID science.

So, Behe misses the opportunity to cry "hoax!" and Dembski says it is a hoax, but perpetrated by IDists! At least with Piltdown Man, the creationists try to blame the scientists for the hoax. Now they've given up so much dignity they're trying to own the hoaxing as the only way they can look smart.

I tried pretty hard to find more responses from creationists of any stripe, but only came up with regurgitations of Behe or Dembski. Might still be a bit early, only 10 days after the PNAS publication.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2007 :  17:03:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That the ID people aren't (yet) calling this a Piltdown hoax by "Darwinists" just points out their ignorance of the subject. They aren't even able to point out the errors of their opposition, or take proper advantage of such stumbles. Instead, it's the scientific community alone that sees and corrects the mistake. The IDers don't understand the material.

Their odd, off-balance reactions provide a hilarious illustration of the scientific ignorance of the Creationists.

Contrast this ignorance with the very deep understanding of the Bible by many of the nonreligious people here.

On the most fundamental level, the IDers simply don't understand the science they are opposing. They wouldn't recognize a real Piltown hoax if it bit them in the ass. They are scientific illiterates who have richly earned the scorn of history.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  01:12:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

They wouldn't recognize a real Piltown hoax if it bit them in the ass.
Bit them in the ass?

You mean, like this?


More on this here

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
Edited by - Starman on 04/27/2007 01:18:02
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  03:32:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Starman

quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

They wouldn't recognize a real Piltown hoax if it bit them in the ass.
Bit them in the ass?

You mean, like this?


More on this here

I, as well as others here, remember this one from when it went down. One of the greatest April Fool's gags ever, and it was joyously swallowed, hook, line & stinker, by a lot of the YEC faithful.
Pilar Pendeja indeed!

Currently, there is an embarrassed, and understandable, silence from all who bit on it. For the rest of us, it set the standard and I, for one, have been unsuccessfuly racking my brains for a gag to top it.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 04/27/2007 03:33:54
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  04:25:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That was indeed a wonderful hoax, Starman and Filthy! It is almost a requirement that one be a fundy to swallow that kind of fakery.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/27/2007 04:28:42
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  05:13:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The neanderthal music hoax is an other one.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
Edited by - Starman on 04/27/2007 05:13:55
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  05:20:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, after all, some of them still accept the Coso Artifact as evidence for alien visitation and the London Hammer as proof of a young earth.

If you force yourself to accept the all-but-impossible only on the word of a book translated by a preacher, you are wide open to 'most any kind of fraud. Hell, some of these folks are so easy, it's no fun, as Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, James Dobson, et al, know well and exploit to the last, sweaty dime.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2007 :  07:12:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

Well, after all, some of them still accept the Coso Artifact as evidence for alien visitation and the London Hammer as proof of a young earth.

If you force yourself to accept the all-but-impossible only on the word of a book translated by a preacher, you are wide open to 'most any kind of fraud. Hell, some of these folks are so easy, it's no fun, as Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, James Dobson, et al, know well and exploit to the last, sweaty dime.





Let us not forget the Whole Coso Automobile.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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